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Frequent visitor Pierre Poilievre chats with friendly crowd at Peter Bros. Paving

Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and a man who'd dearly love to be named prime minister in the next federal election, made another stop in Penticton Friday afternoon.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Indeed, he made a number of stops. And he hasn't left yet. He'll be at the Penticton Seniors Drop-In Centre Saturday morning. Then he's off.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Clearly, Poilievre has become a frequent visitor to this town as of late. He appeared in front of a standing-room-only rally at the PTCC in July of last year. Now he's here again. And, he told PentictonNow Friday, he'll be back for another "big, monster" public event this summer.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> The scene last July

We caught up with the leader of the Official Opposition at Peter Bros. Paving in the 700 block of Okanagan Ave. East, where he glad-handed with a half-dozen employees in the parking lot before jumping aboard an asphalt paver for a photo op.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

He then moved inside one of the bays for a rally-style happening with approximately 50 employees and assorted Peter Bros. higher-ups like president Joe Cuzzocrea.

Also in attendance were people like Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country MP Tracy Gray, who introduced him to the crowd, and BC United Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, who's leaving provincial politics behind and will be a candidate for the federal Conservatives in the new riding of South Okanagan--Similkameen--West Kootenay.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Tracy Gray introduces Pierre Poilievre

It was a group friendly toward Poilievre. And he wasn’t shy about expounding on his views.

About crime he spoke of Penticton's "most prolific offender" and was reminded his name is Levi.

"Everybody knows Levi," he said, to some laughter. "But who wants to keep Levi in prison? We want jail not bail. And no more house arrest for violent offenders. No more early release for sex offenders."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

About gun control, he spoke of "Trudeau's gun grab."

"We want to stop Trudeau's gun grab that targets law-abiding hunters, farmers and shooters," he said, "and use those billions to reinforce security at our borders to keep illegal drugs and guns out."

But mostly Poilievre was all about money. Stuff like affordability, government spending, inflation and taxes.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Throughout, he turned to a familiar soundbite: "Axe the tax. Build the homes. Fix the budget. Stop the crime." And another: "Common sense."

After the rally, he posed for photos and chatted with smiling attendees.

Then he talked to us.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

We asked him why he's made Penticton such a favourite stop. And, had it now taken on an even more important role since incumbent NDP MP Richard Cannings announced he's stepping down and Ashton's stepping up?

Poilievre said he'd "camped here as a kid" and thought it was beautiful. Then he moved to the attack.

"The people feel betrayed by the NDP," he said. "They didn’t think they were voting for Justin Trudeau, but all of a sudden the NDP signs on to this coalition to keep Trudeau in power.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"That allows Jagmeet Singh to stay on long enough to qualify for his pension, but it doesn't do anything for the people whose housing costs have doubled, whose carbon tax is quadrupling, whose food is unaffordable.

"So we want to fire the NDP and Trudeau and have a common sense voice for the South Okanagan."

Twice as we talked he went back to "Axe the tax. Build the homes. Fix the budget. Stop the crime." It's clearly his unabashed mantra.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Dan Ashton looks on

We queried if he had thoughts for Okanagan winery owners, walloped by that brutal cold spell of mid-January. At the least, their plants won't produce this year. But all-out plant replacement may be necessary, meaning no production for years.

"My heart goes out to those family businesses that have sacrificed so much," he said. "I'm here to listen to what solutions the federal government can offer.

"Obviously we’re fighting to cancel the excise tax April 1st and continue to push for free trade across the country so we can sell Okanagan wines nationwide. Canadians should be buying Canadian wines and that means we need to have unfettered free trade across the country."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

We also asked him what he believes are the toughest issues facing the Penticton area, and once again he kept the focus on affordability and crime.

"The doubling of housing costs, the insane food prices and the rising crime," he said. "Just today I called David Eby and Justin Trudeau to ask them to cancel the April 1st carbon tax hike. That hike is 23%. And I've called for them to cancel it. Or as I say, spike the hike, axe the tax.

"Secondly, we have to control government spending to bring down inflation and interest rates. Thirdly, we need to clear away the bureaucracy to build more homes so people can afford a roof overhead. And finally we need to end catch and release and bring in 'jail not bail' for repeat violent and sexual offenders to keep our communities safe."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Throughout the meet and greet and our chat, Poilievre did not speak substantially on healthcare or climate change.

At the end, we suggested that he's promising a lot, that the implementation of all his main talking points will be difficult. We asked what happens if he's elected, can’t fulfill his mandate and is turned on by those who currently back him.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"Yeah, that's why we have to do it," he said with a quick smile.



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